As we speak, well, you read…Dave Quiggle has a wonderful show going on at Gallery1988. His “Icons of Affection” is the latest in a long line of shows he’s been a part of at the Los Angeles gallery, and while we talked about that a bit we also dove into what this talented wonder can and may potentially move onto next. From working in the rock scene to tattooing and all the art in between, this is Dave Quiggle.
Kendra: Every kid draws growing up. It’s just something most of us do to pass the time, but for you…when did you realize that you not only had a talent above the rest but could turn it into not just one but two careers?
Dave Quiggle: Like most parents, my mom and dad would say nice things about my little kid drawings. I think I was just naive enough to believe them. Then when I was a bit older I noticed other kids would ask me to draw things for them and it got me some attention and gave me sort of an identity.
Since then I’ve always maintained that I was going to be an artist of some kind. I just kept pursuing my interests from one thing to another. Comic books, hardcore record sleeves, tattoos, I just keep chasing what interests me most I guess. I try not to look too much at other artists and just try to compare myself today to myself yesterday.
Kendra: What did come first for you, the art or the tattooing or did they somehow fall into place around the same time?
Dave Quiggle: I was doing artwork in the hardcore and punk music scene for a few years first. I would work my day job and do album art and shirts, posters, etc. in the evenings and weekends. Then I quit the day job and went freelance full time. I was already incorporating a lot of old traditional tattoo motifs in my work and when I got the opportunity to start to get into tattooing I took it. So tattooing came later but only a few years after.
Kendra: You’ve done a lot of pop-culture related pieces over the years, which we’ll talk about in a second but I want to focus on your originals right now. When you have to pull from your imagination, where do you draw from for inspiration on pieces like “Searching/Waiting” and “31 Days of October?”
Dave Quiggle: I like doing the pop-culture stuff but my heart is really into doing more original ideas. I don’t know where they come from exactly or what inspires them. For “Searching/Waiting” I just did the “Waiting” piece first as a stand-alone piece. Then after it was finished, I realized it was only one side of the narrative and that there was another side to it. So “Searching” came afterward and made it feel more complete. I love concepts that flow organically. When I was in high school I was always dreaming up these very strange stories that I thought maybe I would do comics for someday. I think locked away somewhere I might have some stories to tell of my own. Maybe that’s something I’ll pursue in the future.
Kendra: Okay, now from TMNT to Beetlejuice to Mickey Mouse, you’re able to give these iconic characters a look that’s both recognizable but distinctly you at the same time. Do you ever feel the pressure when it comes to taking on a pop culture related piece that fans are going to tear you a new one if you stray too far from the original design? Because fans, they can be overprotective.
Dave Quiggle: No, I don’t really think in those terms. I am usually thinking about how to illustrate this character in a way that makes ME interested in it. So that it’s not just boilerplate but has something new and old at the same time. The pressure comes from me, mostly. If it’s boring to me then it just becomes a job to please a client or someone else. That doesn’t usually work out. Normally I work on things that I love. Those are often the more successful pieces for me.
Kendra: You have all of these pieces but you’re not an artist I’ve seen at the local conventions. Is that just not your scene? Currently, you have a show going on at Gallery1988 out in Los Angeles. Can you tell us a little more about the show and the pieces being showcased in “Icons of Affection?”
Dave Quiggle: I don’t know why exactly I’m so passive about the conventions. I’m sure I’m missing out. Maybe one of these years.
The “Icons Of Affection” show has been a blast. I’ve been working on it all year and I’m happy that it’s finally here. I’ve spent a lot of time with each of the pieces and went back and did revisions and obsessed over the details. In the end, I’m happy with the collection I put together for this show. I’m very happy with Gallery1988 and have been doing group shows with them for several years. It was cool to have the chance to just take over the walls there with a solo show.
Kendra: For those solo shows, do you pick characters that are personal to you, or that you know are popular with the people?
Dave Quiggle: I choose ones that are personal favorites of mine as the priority. I have to be engaged in it. I’ve had people ask me to do specific characters that I know are popular and would do well but I don’t feel anything about it. So it almost has to be this Venn Diagram type thing where I have to love it and also it has to be a character that people are passionate about and respond to. So far I’ve only ever done characters that are from my favorite films and TV shows.
Kendra: Other than the current showing at Gallery1988, what’s on the books for you as we head out of 2019 and into 2020?
Dave Quiggle: I have another show in late 2020 that I’m still trying to conceptualize. Details are still fuzzy. Other than that I’m taking the next couple months to try and pull some things into focus on where I want to go. I don’t want to put too much “on the books” because having my year all planned out feels too much like a cage. One of my favorite things is to look ahead at the future and feel like I could go anywhere.